LA CROSSE, Wis. (WTAQ) - Authorities removed volatile chemicals from a duplex in a La Crosse where a man died in a fire Monday. The body of 34-year-old James Oestreich was found in the basement – and police said he died from injuries related to the fire. It caused minor damage in the basement. But once authorities discovered the chemicals, neighboring homes were evacuated and the street was blocked off. Those responding to the fire were checked at a hospital. And the Dane County bomb squad and a support team which looked for the materials were sprayed with decontaminants.
La Crosse fire captain John Helfrich said cause of the fire will be investigated once the State Crime Lab examines the chemicals and other items taken from the home. The La Crosse Tribune says it’s the third fire in the same building since 1969 – when a chemical mix caused an explosion in the kitchen. On Christmas of 1980, the paper said faulty wiring caused moderate damage in the second floor apartment.